Three Cheers for the PPTs - Jai Ho!
“It’s a tough job, managing 35 kids daily. It’s a huge responsibility to ensure that they behave, don’t fight with each other, don’t hurt themselves and others, eat their lunch and snacks properly, keep their things safely….. We’ve to teach them the most basic things - in fact, coming from different linguistic groups, each child gives its own signals about nature’s call. We have to first check with the parents – some say the common su su, some say one bathroom, two bathroom, some simply show their fingers or with some, the facial expression are a give away and so on…We have to be ever vigilant and keep the ayahs in good humour so that they take the child away in time to the washroom…”
“I had a Tamilian kid who added “ing” to Tamil words and spoke in English – here’s a sample – “Miss, he is killing me…” The first time I heard this, I jumped…then being a Tamilian myself, realized that killaradu in Tamil means pinching and so killing….Here’s another one – Miss, she is adiching me…adikkaradu in Tamil means beating…”
“Before leaving for the day, I have to check the entire class room to pick up the things that the kids have left behind to be handed over to them the next day. My table drawers and the classroom almirah resemble the Lost & Found Office with assorted pencil boxes, erasers, pencils, crayon boxes, lunch boxes, water bottles, caps, etc. etc….”
“Often, the parents think that once they have admitted their child in PP (Pre-Primary), their responsibility is over…They question us if their kid doesn’t eat lunch or doesn’t eat it completely…Some parents think that even potty training is our responsibility. Many of them assume that we are there to resolve the conflicts that they face with their child at home. For most working parents, the PP classroom is a safe haven for their child…”
“Everyday, I ensure that each child has snacks and lunch fully…Most times, I have my lunch with them, tell them a story and make them eat. I always have a stock of inducements like toffees, chocolates and pepper mints in my handbag…Many children need to be fed…..”
“It’s quite a thankless job. When it comes to the awards, rewards and recognition, it is the Class X and Class XII teachers who get them all because they bring “the results”…No one realizes or recognizes that it is from the PP-1 and PP-2 class rooms that the development of the child begins. We initiate them into learning; we hold their attention to make them comprehend what we are teaching, use innovative methods to teach the alphabets and numbers…”
These are the snippets of angst and rants that I heard over a period of time from my morning walk companion who is a PPT (Pre Primary Teacher).
Often, while returning home after the morning walk, I’d think of my son’s first day in the school – a memorable day for the entire family….We had to prepare him well in advance with inducements and stories for going to school amidst strong resistance from him...
And finally, when the day arrived, my little son absolutely refused to step out of the house. I had to literally drag him to school, wailing….The only consolation was that there were several similar scenes of howling kids and cajoling, concerned parents that I saw on reaching the school. My son’s teacher took a firm grip of his hand, with his bag, water bottle, et el and asked me to leave, notwithstanding his howls and cries…My son’s tear stained, imploring face is still vivid in my memory…
What the PPT expressed to me during our morning walks rang of complete truth and struck a chord with me. We often take the PPTs for granted – feel that they are responsible for our child’s overall development and performance – often expecting miracles like the child should recite poems with appropriate actions, write alphabets and numbers, take part in sports etc. etc., within a few days of joining the school. If the child performs well, then fine. Or else …..
Most corporate schools train their teachers in client servicing to treat the parents like valued customers. May be, they consider this necessary in view of the intense competition and their top income bracket clientele (parents). So, even if they are seething within, the teachers are restrained and polite with the parents, holding out hopes about their “promising” off spring…
Often, parents forget that a 3 year old can do only so much…But no, he has to be an all rounder ASAP…and that is the teacher’s job…!
On this Teachers’ Day (05 September), I salute all the Pre Primary and Primary Teachers for nurturing my son, for initiating him into the learning process, for inculcating discipline and civil behaviour in him, for putting up with his tantrums, for loving him, for making him eat his lunch and snacks, for understanding his signals and sending him to the washroom in time… and above all, for laying a strong foundation for his further education, career and life in general.
I do strongly believe that special awards should be instituted for the Pre Primary and Primary Teachers since nurturing of the future citizens starts with their patient hand holding…..
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||Thanks Rajat Sir and Mr. Nair for your appreciation.||
|| 6 Sept. 2013|
TO: Ms. Padmaja Iyengar
Enjoyed the article. I remember, when my daughter was in PPT stage my wife and myself used to drop her at the school. When we would depart leaving her to the care of her Anglo-Indian teacher, my daughter's wail used to be "Bari Jabo" (= I'll go home}. Imitating her the teacher picked up Bengali well.
||Yours is an opinion that must be heard and acted upon by authorities concerned throughout the country. PPTs are the shapers of the nation's destiny. I can't help 'salaaming' you for this timely write.||